After more than a month of waiting, my freezer is working again.
At least for now.
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about horrible customer service experiences I have had recently. One involved an upright freezer we received less than a year ago that stopped working in mid-August, leaving us with ruined food, frustrating customer-service calls and a six-week wait for a repair visit that finally came Monday.
I wasn't home when the repairman showed up, but my wife was. She said that before he left he encouraged her to pay $93 for an extended warranty on the freezer, because that would reimburse us for up to $250 in ruined food if the thing stops working again.
It made my wife and me wonder if the company really has that little faith in its product, or if they just want to gouge their customers as much as possible.
Maybe I'm just naive. But reimbursing me for food I lost because their product stopped working doesn't seem like something I should have to pay for in advance. It just seems like it's the right thing to do, extended warranty or not.
Regardless, I'm sticking by my earlier promise to never again shop at this particular store.
And judging by the flood of e-mail I've received on this topic since my first column, several of you are just as fed up as I am.
Before I share some of your comments, let me explain why I didn't name the companies involved in my original column, and why I'm not going to name them today, either. The point of the first column was not to take specific companies to task, but rather to point out a larger problem using a couple of specific examples.
I think some of your responses serve the same purpose.
A reader named Dan responded to the initial column with an online posting, asking what the problem is with telecommunications companies, in particular.
"Is it the industry that breeds the contempt they have for customers?" Dan asked. "My wife and I are totally disgusted with the (lack of) customer service so abundant today. We have decided that if we receive lousy customer service, we are going to let people know about it, both higher-ups as well as friends and acquaintances. I say we should all stop accepting shoddy treatment as customers. If we all do this, things would change quickly."
That was exactly the point of my first column, Dan. I'm glad you're on board!
A reader named Carol felt the same way.
"It seems that customer service has declined everywhere, from the airlines to nearly all local retail outlets," she wrote. "I did have a positive experience at (a local bookstore) yesterday. Several people came up and asked me if I needed help finding anything. True, the store wasn't very busy, but it was a nice change from having to search high and low in stores these days to find an item or a helper."
I'm glad you were able to find someone who cares,
A reader named Carolyn also agreed that if people are "submissive at the affronts of poor customer service, we can only expect things to get worse."
Carolyn wrote that she has had hemiplegia, or paralysis on one side of her body, for almost 22 years. Before she and her husband reach retirement, they want to move into a home that is completely accessible for people who have disabilities. So they studied the possibilities, contracted with a local homebuilder and started building their home in May 2006.
"Ignoring our precise requests, (the builder) went ahead and built the home as they wanted, especially concerning the height and location of the house in the lot," Carolyn wrote. "We have escalated our concerns from the sales agent to the president of the company. Nonetheless, our customer concerns have largely been ignored, even though we thought we had clarified them from the beginning. ... It seems that (the builder) wants us to be submissive like all their other home buyers, and take what they build."
Carolyn and her husband have decided, instead, to speak out and have filed complaints against the company with several government agencies. That strategy has not worked yet, but they are hoping they will not have to file a complaint in court.
"I do not understand why the consumer service is so unimportant in our society," Carolyn wrote at the end of her e-mail.
Neither do I, Carolyn. But if we all work together, maybe we can change that.
I'll share more reader stories about customer service problems and victories in future columns, so please keep sending them to me.Or, if you have a financial question, send that along, too, to email@example.com or to the Deseret Morning News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, UT 84110.